Both Socrates and Samuel Williston would have been proud of our students’ rhetorical prowess on full display last week when we hosted Easthampton High School’s “We The People” team for a showcase event. Both schools were practicing for the state competition in Boston later this month. This Constitutional debate program, now in its 13th year at Williston under the tutelage of Mr. Peter Gunn, asks students to prepare questions on vexing Constitutional issues. Our four-person teams acquitted themselves admirably before a panel that included State Representative John Scibak, State Senator Michael Knapik, and City Councilors Joy Winnie and Andrea Burns.
So what makes a group of young people do more than is required, sacrificing long hours to research, rehearsing, and performance? If what I witnessed does not fall under the heading of “pursuing a passion for learning” then I’m not sure any activity would meet that standard. Our students’ collaborative venture hones those very skills that will prepare them for life after Williston. I witnessed creative and critical thinking going hand in glove with strong communication—an impressive arsenal of skills to be sure.